When I did the lessons for Australian Guitar Magazine that I called “AC/DC The Bon Scott years” I wanted to accompany the lessons with an interview.
Mark Evans had just launched his book “Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside & Outside of AC/DC” so it seemed the perfect and logical pairing.
Evans was the bass player in AC/DC for 3 years which was during half of Bon Scott’s 6 years as the bands singer so the book is a great telling of the “Bon Scott” years from Mark Evans perspective.
One thing that becomes clear reading “Dirty Deeds” is just how important Alberts were in the success of AC/DC.
Any great band that achieves success gets there because it has a strong and experienced team that’s committed to its success behind it.
Alberts was just such a team.
The story of Alberts is wonderfully told in the documentary “Blood & Thunder” which I highly recommend.
For Australians this is part of our musical heritage and a big part at that.
Jacques Albert migrated to Sydney from Switzerland in 1884 and started a clock and watch repair business in King St.
His son Frank expanded the business into music publishing.
An interesting statistic is that Australia in 1900 had the highest per capita ownership of pianos in the world so Alberts were on a winner.
They had a huge market for their sheet music hence the family was very successful.
Two generations later Ted Albert was smitten by Rock & Roll and with the wealth and influence of his family’s business behind him he wanted to create an Australian style of Rock or Pop Music.
Young Ted proved to be as entrepreneurial as his Great Grandfather, so Alberts became a record label as well as a music publishing company.
Like Berry Gordy at Tamla Motown or the Ertegun brothers at Atlantic, Ted Albert drove Alberts, the bands, and acts that Alberts produced made a formidable list.
The Angels, Rose Tattoo, The Choir Boys, John Paul Young and AC/DC are some of those acts.
In the documentary, “Blood & Thunder”, Molly Meldrum the compare of the long running top of the pops music show “Countdown” tells how 25% of the acts that appeared on Countdown were from Alberts.
He went on to say that Countdown may not have lasted more than 6 months without the Alberts bands.
With their gun producers, Harry Vanda and George Young, Alberts became Australia’s hit factory and Vanda & Young actually wrote a lot of those hits like “Love Is In The Air” which John Paul Young had an international hit with.
Alberts had their biggest success with George Young’s little brothers’ band AC/DC, Malcom & Angus.
Mark Evans book recounts the rise of AC/DC which was due to a lot of hard work, constant touring and practice – it was a total commitment from each of the members.
After moving to London Mark recalls how on one of AC/DC’s first gigs was in a small London pub with only 5 people in the audience.
Those 5 people left after the bands 1st set which didn’t look good… but why those 5 punters left the pub? It was to call their friends to tell them to come and see this great band!
By the end of the 2nd set the pub was packed and AC/DC went on to build a reputation as a great live act with a big and loyal following.
Another interesting story in Mark’s book tells how when AC/DC were booked to play at a major festival, Harry Vanda and George Young flew from Sydney to London to witness the band’s moment of triumph.
Sadly AC/DC put in the worst and most lack lustre performance of their career.
George was furious and he had plenty to say…
When they got back to the house George exploded and things got heated.
Angus stomped off upstairs with George following and Malcolm in toe each having their say.
Push came to shove and soon punches were exchanged so Mark ran up the stairs to intervene and calm the situation but instead of making peace the 3 Young brothers turned on Evans and began punching into him.
He remarked that it was fortunate that none of them were big enough to do any damage.
Mark’s time with AC/DC came to an end soon after this event.
Evans is a great raconteur and his book is an important telling telling of the AC/DC story for anyone interested in the band.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did.